Today probably 25 boys were there and a handful of girls. Two of the girls were 13ish and brought their babies. One of the babies was plump, happy, and so cute. The other one was also cute and happy enough, but super skinny and barely walking at 18 months. Breaks my heart to see kids born into the street life. Especially to girls who are still very much kids themselves.
They all ranged in age from 10ish-25. Mostly preteen/early teenagers I would say. When they are let into the centre their glue soaked rags are taken and they are searched for any other glue or weapons or whatever. Most are drunk to some degree from the glue. One boy was so incapacitated he could barely walk. You can smell the glue on their breath and see the mental damage it has done to some of them. They get a bar of soap and can wash themselves and their clothes. There is some singing, a short program, and prayer followed by lunch. A nurse is there as well to have a look at the boys who wish to be looked at.
I and the other teachers sat and chatted with them for awhile. I played with the babies. Pitifully practiced my Arabic. Talked with the girls for awhile. One of them gave me her bracelet. I can’t believe these young preteen girls are already mothers. Crazy to me. They could barely be bothered to breastfeed their boys and were happy to let them wander around without looking after them at all. I took a few pebbles out of little mouths today.
A lot of the boys loved the babies and happily picked them up and played with them. There was one street guy–Dictoora. Probably in his early 20’s and the oldest guy there today. He was drunk and spent a large chunk of time today singing joyfully and drumming on a metal table with bottles. I watched him pick up one of the babies and wipe the dirt off his mouth, give him some water, and held him so lovingly and gently. A number of the other boys had a very sweet way about them with the little ones.
The boys that we have in the centre’s now have all been there for some length of time. Most for at least a year, and many for a couple of years. They all came from this same place. Life on the streets, hungry, clothed in rags, addicted to glue. They are an incredible lot and have come so far. I can see our boys in the kids I hung out with today. Today I looked around and saw potential for so much more! Not lost causes and not doomed to be in the grips of this street life forever. What in life took them to this place? Do they know how much they’re worth? That God created and formed them? That he loves them just as they are? That there’s hope? Do they know there’s more?
In the coming weeks the staff will select new boys to move into the centre’s. I’m so excited to see them off the streets and in school and in a loving and safe environment. I know it won’t be easy, but they are why I came to here. Their lives have worth and value and I can see the Almighty in each and every one of them.
On the way home, I noticed that the sky was red/yellow and opaque in the distance. As soon as I got on my connecting bus…the habuub hit. Dust everywhere, serious wind, red air. Couldn’t see more than a few yards ahead of you. The bus kept on and driving over the bridge you could barely see the Nile beneath. It was so cool. Then, eating dinner on the balcony I saw lightning. Lightning! I love, loveeeee big thunderstorms. Now there are big drops falling from the sky and strong winds blowing. It is my first rain here and it is so awesome. Rainstorm in the desert! My heart is so full!